MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte met the leaders of Brunei Darussalam and Australia in separate bilateral meetings Sunday evening discussing trade, security, the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula issue.
In meeting Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, the President said, “I will begin by welcoming your here in Manila. We are happy, very much happy to see you. And I remember the last time I was there in your anniversary and I was proud I was one of those invited by you.”
“And I consider it an honor for my country and for myself that you have recognized the importance of our mutual relations, the strong bonds between our two countries,” he added.
Duterte recognized the strong relations between the Philippines and Brunei and vowed to further strengthen it in the years ahead.
The Chief Executive also praised Sultan Bolkiah for his “extraordinary service to humanity” extending his gratitude for Brunei’s help when the Philippines was struck by disasters.
He pledged to help fellow ASEAN countries in distress, particularly regarding threats of terrorism and the security concerns in the Korean Peninsula.
It must be resolved through dialogue and must not affect the lives of people in the neighbouring countries, he said. He also noted that China holds the key in resolving the rising tension in the Korean Peninsula.
The President also thanked Bolkiah for hosting a number of Filipinos in Brunei and treating them as their own. Following his meeting with Bolkiah, the President also met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The President committed to further deepen the Philippine-Australia relations. Among the issues discussed by the two leaders include the South China Sea, particularly the crafting of a binding code of conduct, extremism, illegal drugs as well as trade and commerce.
Turnbull praised the President for his stance in the South China Sea issue and also for his administration’s success in crushing ISIS-linked Maute group in Marawi City.
Sea piracy in the Sulu Sea was also tackled with both leaders promising greater security cooperation. They also talked about regional trade, with the Australian leader mentioning his country’s huge potential especially because of its enormous market.-PND